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UKZN Press

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Yves Vanderhaeghen’s Afrikaner Identity looks at the role that media plays in the construction and demarcation of boundaries and culture

What have we done?’ is a plea heard amid the wreckage of Afrikanerdom.

‘Afrikaner’ in South African public discourse is more often than not a swear word.

This close media study considers how, squeezed in the moral vice of past and present, Afrikaners look in a mirror that reflects only a beautiful people.

It is an image of upstanding, hard-working citizens.

To hold on to that image requires blinkers, sleights of hand and contortion.

Above all, it requires an inversion of the liberation narrative in which the wretched of South Africa are the historical oppressors, besieged in their language, their homes, their jobs.

They are the new ‘grievables’, an identity that requires intricate moral manoeuvres, and elision as much of the past as of transformation.
 
Yves Vanderhaeghen is a journalist who grew up in Pretoria, took time out from newspapers to write his PhD on Afrikaner ‘self-othering’ in Beeld newspaper, and is now editor of the Witness in Pietermaritzburg.

‘Central to the book’s original contribution is the notion of “self-othering”, namely the discursive switch present in Afrikaans media that turns perpetrators into victims in an attempt to dislodge the historical burden of collective guilt and assume a new identity of marginalisation – thereby activating a discourse of minority rights and the need for cultural protection. This is a significant, authentic insight that the author goes on to support through empirical analysis of newspaper reports.’ — Herman Wasserman, professor of Media Studies and director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town

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